The Barotseland Freedom Movement (BFM) Office for International Relations demands the immediate release of Barotseland Administrator General, Hon, Afumba Mombotwa and his comrades from Zambian detention. Their arrest and continued incarceration are not only a violation against human rights but a scorn on international law and civility. We believe that the four broke no Zambian or international law just as the acting Zambian President had himself conceded to this fact. Therefore, their detention may only be viewed as barbaric and an insult to Zambia’s claimed democratic values.
The Zambian Government has nothing to worry about the Barotseland issue since it is the one, through its late president, Michael Sata, that had acknowledged the legality of the terminated Barotseland Agreement 1964, and had, in January 2012, gone as far as publishing the same Agreement in Zambian print media to prove its point. It was the same Government that had blessed our first commemoration of the Barotseland shootings in the same year and had further sent its representatives to the now historic March 2012 Barotse National Council Conference at which Barotseland formally and finally accepted Zambia’s 1969 unilateral termination of the same Agreement. Based on that acceptance, the people of Barotseland unanimously declared Barotseland independent of Zambia. Formal communication which included proposed disengagement guidelines regarding this inevitable stand was sent to the same Zambian Government from which there has been no formal response to date; either in opposition or otherwise. The decision that Barotseland arrived at was necessitated by decades of Zambia’s hostility to our calls to honour the Agreement as had been promised before and soon after it was signed by our king, the British and Zambia’s founding father. It is this unwillingness to find a lasting solution to the Barotseland impasse and other poignant factors that led to our decision to revert to our original position and not secede from Zambia as it has been wrongly held by those who have deliberately chosen to remain permanently ignorant of the issue. As a result of this denial, our people have been repeatedly subjected to untold human rights abuses which include killings by successive Zambian governments.
The Zambian Government has further refused to cooperate by, at least, responsibly responding to even the indictment from the African Union Humans and Peoples’ Rights Commission. This and several acts bordering on persecution, intimidation and manipulation only leave us with a belief that the Zambians may be lacking the capacity to legally engage the issue with respect to its exegesis. Malicious arrest of our leaders, as in the Hon Mombotwa and all previous related cases, only prove this point. The Zambian government has miserably failed to even hold any sensible trial based on the claimed accusations. The truth is that such accusations are impossible to prosecute as they do not violate any Zambian law. Instead, it is our people’s rights that are continuously violated, and so, in an outright provocative manner.
Indeed the Zambians have no legal argument against Barotseland’s independence. Their behavior only consolidates our stand and further builds up a much more serious case against them. Not even the regional Southern Africa Development Community would find any reason to support the Zambian argument. Based on these and other facts, we call for the unconditional and immediate release of our leaders because they are being accused for what was publicly decided upon by Barotseland’s highest policy making body, the BNC. The Zambian Government was represented by its most senior officials at that conference. Hon Mombotwa is only acting in obedience to dictates of the BNC Resolution. His arrest and incarceration does not even serve the interests of any sound minded, let alone peace loving, Zambians. As the Zambian Government did in publishing the BA’64, it must now stand up to the challenge of our declared independence in a civilized and not outdated medieval manner of threats and intimidation. The Barotseland issue is an ideal that cannot be put to rest by arrests or killings. Let Hon. Mombotwa and his comrades be released in the name of the Lord. We are for peace and not war. We joined Zambia peacefully and we have left Zambia in the like manner. If the Zambian Government argues to the contrary, let us then have a date in court over this issue and not on drummed up charges of a treason that was actually committed against us. Hon. Mombotwa and company are vulnerable individuals only acting on the BNC’s mandate. Barotseland is our country. We call upon Dr Guy Scott to release our leaders.